Coronavirus pandemic

Fresh cluster in port city Dalian spreads to 5 Chinese regions

Health authorities said the Dalian cluster had now spread to nine cities in five regions across China.
Health authorities said the Dalian cluster had now spread to nine cities in five regions across China.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • A fresh coronavirus cluster in a port city in north-east China has spread to other provinces and prompted new restrictions, the authorities said yesterday, as Beijing scrambles to prevent a second wave of infections.

China had largely brought the virus under control - since it was first detected in the country late last year - through a series of strict lockdowns and travel restrictions.

But in recent months, small outbreaks have given cause for concern, with China reporting 68 new infections yesterday - the highest daily number since April.

Of those, 57 were in the north-western region of Xinjiang, where an outbreak has resulted in millions of residents being tested as well as strict lockdowns in the regional capital Urumqi.

That brings the total number of cases in the region's current outbreak to 235 since the first infection was reported on July 16.

Xinjiang has yet to explain how patient zero, a 24-year-old woman who worked in a mall in its capital Urumqi, contracted the virus.

Six more cases were also reported in the industrial port city of Dalian, Liaoning province, where a new outbreak first emerged at a seafood processing plant last week. This brings the total number of new infections in Dalian to 44.

To contain the spread of the virus, Xinjiang and Dalian have tested millions of people for Covid-19, but the coronavirus is already on the move.

The health authorities said the Dalian cluster has now spread to nine cities in five regions across the country, including as far away as the south-eastern coastal province of Fujian.

The authorities in Fujian have said the provincial capital Fuzhou would enter "wartime mode" after it discovered an asymptomatic patient who had travelled from Dalian, 1,500km away.

The new measures mean increased scrutiny of travellers who enter the city from nationwide virus hot spots.

A fresh Beijing case reported yesterday was also linked to an asymptomatic patient who had travelled from Dalian - the first new local case since a cluster in the capital was brought under control early this month.

Twelve new asymptomatic cases were also recorded in Dalian yesterday. China counts asymptomatic cases separately.

Football matches in the Chinese Super League are currently being played in the city under strict conditions.

The Dalian authorities have banned group celebratory dining activities and ordered customers to display a local "health code" when entering restaurants.

Across the country, 391 people are still hospitalised with Covid-19. There have been 83,959 infections in mainland China in total.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline 'Fresh cluster in port city Dalian spreads to 5 Chinese regions'. Subscribe